Old Mill students wrapping up drive to collect stuffed teddy bears for area kids

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 MOUNT WASHINGTON -- A ‘beary’ successful 2009 drive is being replicated.

Old Mill Elementary School ILEAP Leadership students are sponsoring their second annual Bear Drive through December 18, in cooperation with Citizens Union Bank and “Ardi’s Bears”.

Ardi and Dick Wilson had been collecting teddy bears for years for the Dream Factory Christmas parties. The couple has experienced firsthand how the bears brighten the lives of children dealing with chronic or critical illnesses.

All the principal players have returned for the drive...Chris Williams, Vice-President/Market Executive of Bullitt County’s CUB; Principal Les McIntosh; ILEAP and Enrichment Gifted Resource Teacher Nancy Young and Leadership students Bethany White, Nick Leslie and Savannah Kruse.

“Last year, we collected about 250-260 bears,”  Young reported. “Citizens Union Bank matched our collection so we were able to donate 400 new or gently used bears for children in crisis situations.”

Williams explained that a single bear barrel was set up in CUB’s lobby last year when the corporate office asked if there was another location for a barrel.

Having two children at Old Mill, Williams reply was swift.

“I contacted the principal and he, in turn, asked Mrs. Young and it just took off from there,” said Williams.

Williams’ daughter, Raegan, helped organize last year’s teddy bear drive. She has since moved on to Mount Washington Middle School’s sixth grade class. Raegan’s younger brother, Pierce, is in Lea Glauber’s second grade class at Old Mill.

“It was a natural choice in Old Mill,” Williams added noting that the first year netted 500 teddy bears.

“Last year was a great success and we are hoping for even more teddy bears this year,” he said.

“The fourth and fifth grade ILEAP Leadership students want to provide children with bears who are experiencing something unfortunate occurring in their lives,” Young continued. “They consider it sending a ‘hug’ to a child who needs one.”

The collection barrel is located in the Old Mill lobby. Students want to see an overflowing barrel of bears.

Bullitt County Public Schools has nearly 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 900 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.